Playground Safety: How safe are your school and neighborhood playgrounds?

If you’re the parent of a younger child, make sure that the playground is a safe place to be. Things to think about: a soft surface, safe and well-maintained equipment, first aid for bumps and bruises, and adult supervision.

[Download free checklist — PDF format]

Here are four questions to get you started:

  • Does play equipment – jungle gyms, monkey bars, slides, see-saws — sit on soft, child-friendly surfaces?
  • Is any of the equipment broken? Swing seats? Steps on the slide?
  • Is the equipment age-appropriate for the users? Separate play areas for older, larger children and younger, smaller kids work better.
  • Who is responsible for maintaining the playground? And to whom should parents take their concerns?
  • Who supervises the playground, when?

The National Program for Playground Safety, a project a the University of Northern Iowa funded by the CDC, has developed a National Action Plan for the prevention of playground injuries that provides guidance for local school and communities as well as advice to state and national bodies. www.playgroundsafety.org/safe/index.htm

A note on recess:

Recess is great. Most of us think that recess is essential for the physical and emotional well-being of children. But recess without adequate supervision, available first aid, and age-appropriate play equipment adds up to unintended injuries and unnecessary risk for children. When assessing the physical aspects of the playground, remember to ask school staff about recess rules and procedures.